The reelection campaign of President Donald Trump joined a local U.S. representative and others to file a lawsuit contending extensive mail-in voting is a threat to free and fair elections.
“Election integrity should not be a partisan issue, yet Democrats are consistently trying to cheat and manipulate election rules to undermine safeguards and security around the November election. President Trump is firmly committed to ensuring that every eligible person has the opportunity to vote once and that Americans’ votes are not diluted by fraud in new systems Democrats are trying to hastily push on the American people,” said Jenna Ellis, senior legal adviser to Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.
Act 77, a voter reform bill, was signed into law in October by Gov. Tom Wolf. It included the option to vote by mail, consolidated some polling places and provided $90 million in funding for new voting systems. The lawsuit contends the changes were made too quickly, hampering the fair elections process.
U.S. Rep. Guy Reschenthaler, who represents the 14th District including Fayette, Washington, and Greene counties and part of Westmoreland County, is one of those who filed the suit along with Melanie Stringhill Patterson of Belle Vernon and Clayton David Show of Hopwood, who campaigned for Trump and Reschenthaler.
The lawsuit was filed against Secretary of the Commonwealth Kathy Boockvar and election boards across the state, including those in Washington, Greene, Fayette and Westmoreland counties.
The primary elections were rescheduled to June 2 because of the coronavirus pandemic, and many Pennsylvanians applied to vote by mail, although the polls remained open. The lawsuit contends mail-in voting poses a threat that fraudulent ballots would be cast and counted. It further says mail-in voting procedures were incorrectly followed, allowing voters in some counties to submit ballots at locations other than their local board of elections, and system glitches resulted in duplicate ballots in Allegheny County.
“Free and fair elections are essential to the right of Americans to choose through their vote whom they elect to represent them,” the lawsuit said. “Upending our entire election process and undermining ballot security through unmonitored by-mail voting is the single greatest threat to free and fair elections. To be free and fair, elections must be transparent and verifiable.”
The lawsuit said the process led to disenfranchisement of voters and raises questions about the accuracy of election results, “and ultimately chaos” heading into the 2020 General Election.
“This is all a direct result of Defendants’ hazardous, hurried, and illegal implementation of unmonitored mail-in voting which provides fraudsters an easy opportunity to engage in ballot harvesting, manipulate or destroy ballots, manufacture duplicitous votes, and sow chaos,” the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit says the right to vote is not simply the right to cast a ballot, but to have votes counted fairly.
“The continued enforcement of arbitrary and disparate policies and procedures regarding poll watcher access and ballot return and counting poses a severe threat to the credibility and integrity of, and public confidence in, Pennsylvania’s elections, so long as absentee or mail-in voting is continued to be extensively used,” the lawsuit said.